Do you save money heating with wood?

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
100% yes. My hydraulic splitter paid for itself in the first season. We watched our combined electric/gas bill drop by more than $150/month. That was our justification for buying the solar panels that we put on our addition, as our savings would continue to add up. The electric portion of my bill has not been over $14 (stupid fees) since we installed the solar. Right now, I am sitting on a $500 credit that unless I install an AC unit, a super computer, or more electric heaters, I will never get through it.... Maybe electric car :)

Not only that, but i don't have any gym memberships (not that I did anyway), our house is warmer, and it always gives me something to mess around with (saw, splitter, blue ikea bags, backyard distractions, slivers, and the list goes on)

One more thing, my friends all know I burn with wood now, and will randomly drop off trailer fulls or offer me their trees when they come down! I'm currently sitting on 3-4 Years supply, which is right where I need to be!
I Wander what a Tesla power wall would cost and if you could go off grid then Since the power company only pays you the wholesale rate for the power you feed back to them in a grid-tied system you could save it for later in the batteries and not pay the hook up fee to the power company. I‘d look into getting into solar but being in the north I’m not sold on it as of yet. There’s very little solar powered homes and businesses up here compared to wha I’ve seen in the SW and even Northern California.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
I Wander what a Tesla power wall would cost and if you could go off grid then? simce The power company only pays you the wholesale rate for the power you feed back to them in in grid-tied system you could save it for later in the batteries and not pay the hook up fee to the power company. I lick around getting into solar but being in the north I’m not sold on it as of yet. There’s very little solar powered homes and businesses up here compared to wha I’ve seen in the SW and even Northern California.
What you're seeing there is also a reflection of local grants, rebates, and feed in tariffs promoting solar electricity.

According to this map I receive very similar amounts of solar energy as you do, and my house is net-zero for electricity with my system.

1607871319319.png
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
Hopefully the next administration will extend and maybe even enhance the solar incentives for the next few years and then I could look into it more. Right now I’m updating the house I bought two years ago and I want to build a pole shed so that will tap me out for cash and I make less than $20k a year so there’s not a lot to play with. Here’s a map of the US solar irradiance.

00D85BEE-C668-43F6-AF89-FDAFCAA19914.png
 
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NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
361
SE WI
I live right on the border of the 2 lightest yellow and put in solar panels Feb of 2019. Projected break even point of solar is about 10 years out assuming 3% rate increases. After that I'll be money ahead. Lifetime of system savings is about 40k.
 

Dobish

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2015
2,011
Golden CO
I live right on the border of the 2 lightest yellow and put in solar panels Feb of 2019. Projected break even point of solar is about 10 years out assuming 3% rate increases. After that I'll be money ahead. Lifetime of system savings is about 40k.
I'm looking at a 5 to 7 year break even point.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
361
SE WI
I'm looking at a 5 to 7 year break even point.
Yeah, your probably at least 3 solar zones better than me. It's all good though... I don't plan on moving, don't want to deal with my years of hoarding. Kids can when I get carried out!
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
My electric bill is around $40 a month average so that’s not too bad I think and the good part to Livingston up here it that I’m in a hardwood forest and scrounging for fire wood is easy and I can be pretty picky on what I take lately. There’s some nice birch down the road that I’m not taking now and of course tons of poplar even right across the street that down with no branches thanks to the power company so heating the house is cheap. I’ve heard from friends in Texas and Arizona Of $400 summer AC bills. That’s crazy to me.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
361
SE WI
My Dec & Jan electric bills would be $500-600 with the baseboards set at 64. I burn, keep the house around 70, electric bill around $200. Everything is electric, no NG or propane.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
My Dec & Jan electric bills would be $500-600 with the baseboards set at 64. I burn, keep the house around 70, electric bill around $200. Everything is electric, no NG or propane.
Wow, an all electric house up here in Wisconsin isn’t good especially since LP here in the Midwest is fairly cheap.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
361
SE WI
Wow, an all electric house up here in Wisconsin isn’t good especially since LP here in the Midwest is fairly cheap.
Yeah, house was built in '78 by an electrician. Whole different era... Which is why I burn and have solar panels.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,834
Northern NH
The big push now in "green" areas is to ban any new natural gas connections to new homes and have all the heating and appliances electric. What goes around comes around. The concept is that the grid is going to go green quickly. No doubt there will be some sort of carbon taxes on fossil like heating oil and propane to be equalize the costs. Since wood is decentralized with a very dysfunctional supply chain and some green attributes I expect that will be the last one to be taxed.

The reasons for the prior incentives were that solar was not competitive, with the major drop in prices its competitive without subsidies if a homeowner does the normal conservation work up front.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
Yeah, house was built in '78 by an electrician. Whole different era... Which is why I burn and have solar panels.
My small house was built in 1978 also. The houses third furnace was just put in last year shortly after I bought the place and it’s only a 45,000 BTU unit but I mostly heat with the scrounge wood. Good thing you are too or like you said your heating bills would be crazy high. In the 26 months I’ve been here I’ve spent over $40,000 on updates already, mostly on new windows, siding and a new kitchen and bathroom. The furnace and and added insulation I got from a energy program.
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,616
Woolwich nj
I had gas installed this past January and got off LP. I had 2 gas fireplaces installed.
My heater is an oil fired boiler. I use the gas fireplaces every so often. Like this past weekend when its 60 out side. I dont pay for wood. That being said Its definitely cheaper to have free wood and take the money you would spend on oil and purchase things for yourself. Like saws and stuff. Once you send the check to big oil you only read about there record profits and there's nothing for you. I'm surrounded by wood and have a ton of access to it. The other part is that when its cold out there no other feeling then walking through the door and having 500 lbs of cast at 550 degrees... it feels warm
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
I had gas installed this past January and got off LP. I had 2 gas fireplaces installed.
My heater is an oil fired boiler. I use the gas fireplaces every so often. Like this past weekend when its 60 out side. I dont pay for wood. That being said Its definitely cheaper to have free wood and take the money you would spend on oil and purchase things for yourself. Like saws and stuff. Once you send the check to big oil you only read about there record profits and there's nothing for you. I'm surrounded by wood and have a ton of access to it. The other part is that when its cold out there no other feeling then walking through the door and having 500 lbs of cast at 550 degrees... it feels warm
That’s my philosophy, burn scrounged free wood then buy some nice tools of the trade ie. a few (3) pro ported saws and a nice splitter and be for-the-most-part off the grid for your heat.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,616
Woolwich nj
That’s my philosophy, burn scrounged free wood then buy some nice tools of the trade ie. a few (3) pro ported saws and a nice splitter and be for-the-most-part off the grid for your heat.
Actually I am pretty much off grid... I am well and septic. I have a large solar system.. 52 panels.. Im ahead on electric I always run a credit and I make like 4k a years in serec.. I heat my home with wood and occasionally.. Ill burn gas if I need a break or its to warm to run the stove.. I like my land and love my toys.. Its a great feeling that 95% of my money goes to me and not to the utility companies and big oil
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
Actually I am pretty much off grid... I am well and septic. I have a large solar system.. 52 panels.. Im ahead on electric I always run a credit and I make like 4k a years in serec.. I heat my home with wood and occasionally.. Ill burn gas if I need a break or its to warm to run the stove.. I like my land and love my toys.. Its a great feeling that 95% of my money goes to me and not to the utility companies and big oil
Nice! and 52 panels, I’ve never seen a private array that big as the bigger ones around here are half that size. I envy your setup! How about a photo of your array?
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
If I do a solar project I think I could install it myself since I have wired two of my own houses and I was in facilities maintenance for many years and oh... my best friend is a long time electrician lol. I think I would just need six panels if each panels peak wattage is 300 or so. Also I’d likes install the panels on a pedestal in my backyard.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
361
SE WI
If I do a solar project I think I could install it myself since I have wired two of my own houses and I was in facilities maintenance for many years and oh... my best friend is a long time electrician lol. I think I would just need six panels if each panels peak wattage is 300 or so. Also I’d likes install the panels on a pedestal in my backyard.
If you do, make sure your utility company will make the connection on a DIY and you have a permit. It's not rocket science; but besides the panels there are optimizers, an inverter and a dual meter pedestal.

I wanted to do a pedestal system; but the cost was much higher due to excavation, footings and structure. Big pro to the pedestal is you can install the panels at a steeper angle to get better production than my 4 pitch roof. During the summer I have days of over 50kwh production. During December & early January I can't hit 20kwh in a day and those 2 months are only around 300kwh. July is over 1mwh.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,834
Northern NH
If I do a solar project I think I could install it myself since I have wired two of my own houses and I was in facilities maintenance for many years and oh... my best friend is a long time electrician lol. I think I would just need six panels if each panels peak wattage is 300 or so. Also I’d likes install the panels on a pedestal in my backyard.
My guess is you need more than six panels as they only put out their rated output on a very rare day where the sun is oriented directly perpendicular with the sun, there are zero hihg level clouds and the temps are not too high.

This solar calculator is easy to use and universally regarded as pretty close on long term average production. PVWatts Calculator (nrel.gov)

This book is pretty much the standard recommendation before spending money on solar, there are older versions floating around on the internet

Solar Power Your Home For Dummies: DeGunther, Rik: 8601400007686: Amazon.com: Books

I DIYed 3 systems solo and pretty well rebuilt one from close to scratch. Its not rocket science but there are some details that an electrician would be handy to have around when it comes to connecting it up to the main panel. The biggest PITA that I have skipped is configuring the communications gateway on the inverter to the get it on the internet. I hear a lot of folks complaining about this. I dont have that capability or want it so I need to read my production meter monthly to sell my SRECS. Another potential hassle is if you have active building inspections, many inspectors want an electrician to do the work and 95% of the installation is mechanical in nature so you are paying premium for an electrician to hire a a couple of apprentices to do the grunt work.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,834
Northern NH
If you do, make sure your utility company will make the connection on a DIY and you have a permit. It's not rocket science; but besides the panels there are optimizers, an inverter and a dual meter pedestal.

I wanted to do a pedestal system; but the cost was much higher due to excavation, footings and structure. Big pro to the pedestal is you can install the panels at a steeper angle to get better production than my 4 pitch roof. During the summer I have days of over 50kwh production. During December & early January I can't hit 20kwh in a day and those 2 months are only around 300kwh. July is over 1mwh.
One of my systems is a pole mount with a manually adjustable angle. I change the angle four times a year. Even at 30 degree pitch it still get snow cover but melts off a lot quicker than my roof array. There is 2 KW of panels on it. The picture is its spring and fall setting, In summer its flatter and in winter its steeper. I designed it to be balanced so I can change the angle in about 5 minutes.
 

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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,616
Woolwich nj
Nice! and 52 panels, I’ve never seen a private array that big as the bigger ones around here are half that size. I envy your setup! How about a photo of your array?
my panels are roof top so I dont have a pic. I did roof top because with a system this big I would have needed a variance to do a ground install.. and I truly believe I wasn't going to get it..I produce 20k yearly.. My hot tub eats alot in winter..
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,834
Northern NH
So here is my roof mount and my wall mount. The wall mount is 660 watts, (its my original system about 20 years old) the roof mount is around 2100 watts. The two panels that sit up off the roof on the left are solar hot water panels with a DC solar panel that runs the circulator pump. I tipped it up from roof angle after a few seasons of operation as tipping it up give me more heat in the spring and fall and less in the summer. The roof panels are fixed and get covered with snow for days if not weeks in winter. The wall mounts are adjustable angle. It requires a hydralic floor jack and wooden beam to move it. Takes me about 15 minutes.

My 12K minisplit is on the right. I run it on surplus net metered solar. I went into the winter with 2500 KW to play with.

pc110004.jpg
 
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Dobish

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2015
2,011
Golden CO
This was before the concrete path and the gardens, but it was one of the only pictures you can actually see the panels. Our main house has 2 7 panels, but they are pretty much blocked by a tree.
1608349112462.png
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
85,996
South Puget Sound, WA
Our panels are ground and pole mount. We have a tall redwood on the south side of the house that nixed the option of putting them on the house.